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EPA enforcement program nets major Arizona cleanups, pollution reductions in 2006

Release Date: 11/15/2006
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

Superfund cleanups highlight year

(San Francisco, Calif -- 11/15/2006) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency enforcement actions in Arizona for 2006 brought environmental and public benefits for the state’s residents as polluters committed to more than $54 million to correct environmental violations and prevent future pollution.

The EPA’s enforcement actions in Arizona, which surpassed each of the previous five year’s totals, also succeeded in getting companies to spend over $1 million on environmental projects to benefit affected communities and yielded over $1.1 million in civil penalties.

The agency’s enforcement in Arizona over the past five years yielded over $142 million in cleanup costs and over $4.5 million in civil penalties.

“The EPA’s collective efforts in Arizona in 2006 will benefit human health and the environment for millions of Arizona residents for years to come,” said Wayne Nastri, administrator of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We continue to focus our efforts on bringing about public health safeguards in the areas that need it most, such as restoring precious groundwater resources and improving air quality.”

The Phoenix-Goodyear Airport Superfund Site cleanup, enforcing dust control laws, protecting drinking water and restoring watersheds led the year’s enforcement accomplishments.

2006 enforcement highlights for Arizona include:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement with Unidynamics/Phoenix, Inc. and its parent company, Crane Co. requiring parties potentially responsible for soil and groundwater contamination at the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport North Superfund Site to clean up the site at an estimated cost of $35 million. The settlement also requires the company to pay $8 million, which includes $1 million on a Brownfields project in the city of Goodyear, a $500,000 penalty and $6.7 million in past costs and future oversight costs.
  • Working with the U.S. Department of Justice, the EPA negotiated settlements totaling roughly $250,000 in penalties against two firms in the Phoenix area for PM-10, or dust, violations. Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc. paid $190,000 and Meritage Homes of Arizona paid $57,770. The companies failed to control dust, a key culprit behind the area's continuing air-pollution problem. Maricopa County currently exceeds the national health standard for coarse air particulates, of which dust is a contributor. Much of the dust is stirred up by construction activities.
  • The EPA reached an agreement with Cyprus Tohono Corporation requiring the company to clean up a 450-acre area of its 10,505-acre mine site responsible for contaminating groundwater on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 32 miles southwest of Casa Grande. Two of the evaporation ponds and the mill tailings impoundment are considered to have contributed to groundwater contamination of an aquifer that was previously the sole source of drinking water for the North Komelik community. Area residents have also reported that in certain wind conditions dust from the mine blows up into North Komelik, creating potential inhalation of particulate contamination. Contaminated soil will be excavated, placed on a liner, and covered with a soil cap.
  • The agency resolved the city of Nogales’s long-standing failure to comply with a March 2004 EPA administrative order requiring the city to submit drinking water monitoring and reporting data. The city will pay a $5,500 fine and spend at least $50,000 to repair or replace sewer lines that have degraded and are leaking wastewater into the surrounding soil and possibly into groundwater supplies.
  • The EPA reached an agreement with Tucson developer Whetstone Development Corp. and its general contractor K.E. & G. Development to pay penalties totaling $110,000 to settle Clean Water Act violations. Whetstone Development Corp also agreed to donate 40 acres of open space, which contains approximately 2.5 acres of desert wash riparian habitat, to the city of Benson. The EPA's agreement with Whetstone Development Corp. compensates for the permanent loss of approximately 0.25 acres of desert streams, or ephemeral washes, which were filled without a permit during construction activities at “The Canyons at Whetstone Ranch” residential development in Benson. The affected area is part of the San Pedro River watershed, a vital ecological resource in Arizona.
  • The EPA took an enforcement action against construction company Triumph Builders and its subcontractor D. Fenn Enterprises, Inc. after they transported solid waste materials -- including broken concrete, asphalt, metal re-bar, soil, metal and PVC pipes, and vegetative debris -- from a construction project to the San Pedro River in Pomerene, and illegally dumped the waste into the river without consultation or authorization from state or federal regulatory agencies. The companies were ordered to remove the demolition waste from the San Pedro River.
  • The EPA and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority agreed on actions the utility will take to comply with wastewater discharge, monitoring and maintenance regulations at its Window Rock and Tuba City Wastewater Treatment Plants on the Navajo Nation. The utility violated its pollutant discharge permits by exceeding the effluent limitations for biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, fecal coliform and/or E. coli, and residual chlorine.

Please go to http://www.epa.gov/region09/enforcement/results/index.html for a full description of the EPA’s enforcement cases throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands in 2006. For information on the EPA’s national enforcement summary for 2006, go to: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/data/results/annual/fy2006.html
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